Courtesy: University of Pittsburgh
The Pittsburgh men's swimming and diving team claimed its 15th overall and fourth-straight Big East championship over the weekend, with 737 points outscoring second-place Notre Dame (501) and third-place Rutgers (438). The Panthers won eight event titles and set four school records as Head Coach Chuck Knoles was honored as the Men's Coach of the Year and senior Mike Pron (Belle Meade, N.J./Hillsborough) earned Male Swimmer of the Year honors. It was the fourth time in his tenure that Knoles received the honor.
Pron led the Panthers with two individual championships on the weekend, first in the 400 individual medley in 3:55.80, a provisional qualifying time for the NCAA championships. He followed that up with another first-place finish on the final day of competition in the 200 breaststroke, an event he also won as a freshman in 1997. Pron won the event in a school and meet record time of 1:59.45, which was also another provisional qualifying time.
Pittsburgh won three event titles, broke three school records, and set a meet record on just the first day of competition. In the first event of the championships, Michael Demos (McKeesport, Pa./Elizabeth-Forward), Miah Heath (Estes Park, Colo./Estes Park), Jerry Koller (Bethel Park, Pa./Bethel Park) and Mike Grube (Drexel Hill, Pa./Upper Darby) claimed the 200-yard freestyle relay title in 1:20.26, breaking the school and meet record of 1:21.35 set by Pittsburgh in 1991.
Grube, the Panthers' standout freshman sprinter, won his first individual Big East championship in the 50 free with a time of 20.35. His preliminary time of 20.32 broke a 19-year-old school record (20.34) set by Rick Carter in 1981. Grube also anchored the 400 medley relay team of Brian Elko (Denville, N.J./Morris Knolls), Pron and Heath that won first place in a school record time of 3:16.80, and placed third in the 100 freestyle (45.35).
The Panthers continued to dominate the second day by claiming another relay and individual title. The 200- yard medley relay team of Elko, Andy Cherep (Pittsburgh, Pa./Plum), Patrick Shedlock (North Huntingdon, Pa./Norwin) and Heath placed first with a time of 1:30.90. Elko also placed second in both the 100 backstroke (49.60) and the 100 butterfly (49.14).
Heath earned his first career individual championship in the 100 freestyle with a time of 45.18. He then anchored the champion 400 freestyle relay (2:59.84) team of Grube, Elko and Demos, helping Pittsburgh claim four of five relay championships on the weekend. Heath also had a top-three finish in the 50 freestyle as he placed third.
Inidividual event champions earn All-Big East honors as well as the second- and third-place finishers. Also garnering the honor were junior Craig Peterson (Washington, Pa./Trinity) in the 400 individual medley, senior Scott VanEpps (Ft. Thomas, Ky./Highlands) in the 100 breaststroke, senior Regan Drew (Shreveport, La./Arlington Martin) in the 200 freestyle, and the 800 freestyle relay team of Will Eden (Scottsdale, Ariz./Chaparral), Tim Tallman (Lindenwold, N.J./Camden Catholic), Drew and Grube.